Helsinki Citizens Assembly

At the assembly in Ankara, grassroots activists will grapple with the problems of today's Europe

By Metta Spencer

The Helsinki Citizens' Assembly is a non-governmental organization for citizens of countries belonging to the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe. We hold an assembly about every 18 months and, in between, work through commissions on such topics as: Democracy and Citizenship; Conflicts and Peace Politics; Economy and Ecology; and Women as Citizens. Each commission undertakes a variety of projects and campaigns, including peacemaking efforts in the former Yugoslavia and the Transcaucasus. HCA is working toward economic conversion of Martin, Slovakia, where the sagging economy is dependent on revenue from military plants. HCA is working to develop economic alternatives for Martin.

The third Helsinki Citizens' Assembly will take place December 2-5 in Ankara, Turkey. Initially, the only way in which one could attend an HCA assembly was to represent an NGO as part of the Canadian delegation or that of some other member country. Recently, however, HCA has also begun to offer individual memberships for an annual fee of US 530. One of the privileges of such a membership is an invitation to all assemblies. Westerners' registration fee for the Assembly will be U.S. $150, which includes all accommodation and food.

The Ankara Assembly Program

After morning speeches from prominent political figures, the conference will break into commission plenaries, again with panels of invited speakers. The second day will be devoted to a series of smaller workshops on more specific topics. For example, the Democracy and Citizenship commission will hold workshops on the following topics: (1) European Identity and European Institutions; (2) Education and Networking for Human Rights and Democracy; (3) Charter Campaigns; (4) Racism and Migration; (5) Citizenship and National Self-Determination; (6) Crime, Democracy, and Civil Society; (7) European and Non-European Models of Civil Society; and (8) Gypsy Rights.

There will be a series of workshops dealing with regional conflicts-the Balkans, the Transcaucasus; Northern Ireland; the Middle East; Kurds; the CIS; and on ecological, feminist, and conflict-resolution topics.

It is expected that about 800 foreign participants and 400 Turkish participants will be present, plus journalists and translators. The languages of the conference are English, Turkish, Russian, German, French, Spanish, Italian, and Arabic.

On Oct. 9, the Canadian committee will be holding a meeting in Toronto. To attend, call Steve Dankowich at416/844-4453. To become an individual member of HCA or attend the Assembly, contact the International Secretariat at Panska 7, Praha 1, 11 669-CZ, Czech Republic. Tel. 422/220l81, 223033, fax 422/220948, 269248.

Peace Magazine Sep-Oct 1993

Peace Magazine Sep-Oct 1993, page 11. Some rights reserved.

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